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The Preview by Alan Gardner
September 28, 2012
Match factsSeptember 29, 2012
Group 1 of the Super Eights may be a collection of runners-up but second-best is an accurate summary of England and New Zealand's performances so far. After this match, one team is going to be propping up the group and, depending on the result of Sri Lanka versus West Indies, potentially checking the departures timetable from Bandaranaike International.
Of the two, New Zealand should enter the match in better fettle, having scrapped like cornered kiwis in their exhilarating Super Over defeat against the tournament hosts. They also pushed Pakistan - fast turning into one of the favourites - all the way in the group stage and in Brendon McCullum they have the World T20's leading run-scorer. By contrast, England made their lowest T20I score against India in Colombo and then followed that up by ushering Johnson Charles to his best showing in all senior cricket, and West Indies to a first win.
Unsurprisingly, England's green (not to mention KP-free) batting order has been the problem. Stuart Broad was explicit in blaming the batsmen after the failure to chase 180 against West Indies and first-over performances of 0 for 1, 2 for 1 and 0 for 2 in their three games have given England more of a stop than a start. If they can get through the first six balls, one crumb of comfort may be the fact that New Zealand's slow bowlers are of the orthodox finger-spin variety.
For New Zealand, the challenge is to convert the disappointment of two close defeats into match-winning momentum. The Black Caps are often dark horses but they have still tended to fall before the final fence. Their only T20I win against England came during the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, when they progressed to the semi-finals; the teams also met in the 2010 Super Eights, when England went on to lift the trophy. Of those two precedents, a repeat of the former looks more likely than the latter.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LLWWL
Watch out for
The sceptics have increasingly begun to circle Craig Kieswetter's name at the top of the order with red ink. Having not made a duck his first 21 T20I innings, Kieswetter has picked up two in three matches at this tournament. His anxiety to play the six-hitting blunderbuss, with Alex Hales a more subtle opening partner, appears to have clouded Kieswetter's mind - he has made four of his six single-figure scores this year - while there is also concern about the number of dot balls he faces. Needs a big innings.
Daniel Vettori has had a quiet World T20 so far, with one wicket at a cost of 83 runs and a 16-ball 18 when promoted to No. 4 as a pinch hitter against Pakistan. His experience and economy (Vettori's rate of 5.63 is among the most miserly in T20 internationals) mean he remains a valuable member of the side and one who can remember what it is like to beat England, having played in Durban five years ago. England's much-discussed uncertainty about how to tackle spin bowling adds further spice.
England set a lot of store by continuity and, even if they didn't, their options are limited. Ravi Bopara's batting form is unlikely to have improved while carrying the drinks and replacing Kieswetter with Michael Lumb at opener would be a gamble that would also require either Jonny Bairstow or Jos Buttler to take over the wicketkeeping duties.
England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach.
New Zealand might be tempted to give Ronnie Hira a run-out, in light of the knockout matches being played in spin-friendly Colombo. His left-arm spin may not be exotic, and would replicate Vettori's angle of attack, but after the gentle welcome England gave West Indies' Samuel Badree it could be a tempting option.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Rob Nicol, 3 Brendon McCullum (wk), 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 James Franklin, 6 Kane Williamson, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Kyle Mills.
Pitch and conditions
Broad described the Pallekele pitch as a "batter's paradise" after the first round of Super Eight games there, with minimal spin or seam movement and plenty of pace. Saturday is expected to be clear, which should help the runs flow again.
Stats and trivia
"We back the guys up there [at the top of the order], we know they're all dangerous players. But losing wickets in the first over, especially, is not acceptable."
England captain, Stuart Broad, is expecting the batsmen to make a better start against New Zealand
"Personally, I don't keep an eye on the strike rate or balls faced. If you can get your boundaries and your ones and twos, the strike rate is going to take care of itself."
New Zealand's Martin Guptill has some advice about opening that England might take heed of
US readers can watch the match live here, coverage starts 30 minutes before the game begins.
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